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Kenneth S. Sacks

Professor of History and Classics:
Phone: +1 401 863 2658

Co-PI (with Baruch Halpern, Penn State University) for $105,000 Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Program Award for "Cultural Exchange and Appropriation in the Mediterranean World." This work is under contract with Brill Press, in one or two volumes.


I received my Ph.D. from California, Berkeley in Ancient History. I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976-1995, at which time I came to Brown as Professor of History and Dean of the College. I've been full time in the history department since 1998. My area of specialty is Greek intellectual history, which led me to study American Transcendentalism.


I am editing a book that will be completed by the end of 2006 on the political statements of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson is often seen as apolitical until, at least, his abolitionist speeches near the end of the 1840s. More recent research has shown that he was probably sensitive to political theory even before then. I am selecting writings--including excerpts from his journal, and material from his letters and poems--to illustrate this new direction. In addition, I am writing a 10,000-word introduction, in which I lay out the background for Emerson's thinking, focusing especially on John Locke, the Scottish Common Sense School, Rousseau, Kant, and other Romantics.

A longer term project will involve an investigation of how classical values inform on current day beliefs. A chapter focusing on martyrdom and resurrection--from the ancient world to the modern--is nearly complete.




Rabbi Joseph L. Baron Faculty Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Society for Jewish Learning for Outstanding Academic Leadership in the State (1993: $1000 prize)
Included in Wisconsin Students' Association "Top One Hundred Educators at University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison," 1992
Teaching Excellence Award (University of Wisconsin), 1992
Included in "UW's 50 Great Teachers of Independent Thought" by the Wisconsin Student Association, 1991
Senior Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1987-1988
Visiting Fellow, Department of Classics, Princeton University, 1985-1986
Vilas Associate, University of Wisconsin, 1985-1987
Summer Fellow, the American Numismatic Society, 1981
Fellow, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research in the Humanities, 1980-1981
Fellow, The American Council of Learned Societies, 1978-1979


Senior Fellow, Wayland Collegium, 2005-2008
Member, Board of Administration, Howard Foundation, 2003-2011
Graduate Council, 2002-2005
Director of Undergraduate Studies, 2002-
Departmental Academic Priorities Committee, 2002-
Executive Committee, Program on Ancient Studies, 1998-


Ancient Hellenistic History: I specialize in the history of ideas, and thus cover especially aspects of philosophy and religion from roughly the time of Alexander the Great through the end of the Roman Empire

American Transcendentalism: the social, philosophical, and political thought of Transcendentalists, especially Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller

Curriculum Vitae

Download Kenneth S. Sacks's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format